As federal legalization becomes a political tool, more bills in favor of cannabis have cropped up. Congress hasn’t introduced anything of significant measure since late last year though. The previous MORE act held strong Democratic priorities, while STATES appealed to Republicans. Last week, however, a new bill fell in the middle of Congress’ concerns: the Substance Regulation and Safety Act.
Regardless of being more in line with Republicans, the bill would also hit some social equity points. It would require the Department of Health and Human Services to address “racial justice” in the case of cannabis. According to Marijuana Moment’s reporting, the department would “consult with civil rights stakeholders to determine whether cannabis abuse prevention strategies and policies are likely to have racially disparate impacts within 100 days of the bill’s enactment.”
Minnesota senator, Tina Smith, sponsored the bill that wouldn’t just legalize cannabis. This bill would also remove it entirely from the Controller Substances Act. That’s in comparison to previous bills that only sought to reschedule cannabis into a different category. The Substance Regulation and Safety Act would additionally further national research around cannabis and treat it as tobacco is treated. While there are plenty of reasons to oppose that comparison, many political pundits applaud Smith’s bill for appeasing Republicans who have turned down nearly every piece of cannabis legislation to come forward since 2016. Alternatively, Smith has been a champion for cannabis legislation and reform since taking her seat since 2018.
Legislation With A Compromise
The introduction of the bill comes days after the House approved a spending bill amendment that would protect all state, territory and tribal cannabis programs from federal intervention. Additionally, it comes as Minnesota lawmakers push for state legalization.
“It’s terrific to see Senator Smith engage so substantively in the cannabis policy reform debate,” Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “We at NORML look forward to propelling many aspects of the new legislation into the broader conversation on the future of federal regulations in regards to a post-prohibition America.”-Marijuana Moment
The Democratic party may have removed cannabis legislation as a 2020 party plank, calling for decriminalization instead. Regardless, members of the House seem steadfast to not abandone the idea. Debates about what steps to take next continue as support grows. The Substance Regulation and Safety Act is currently circulating in the house; but, Smith is pushing for a floor vote in September.